US 20060022806 A1
An apparatus and method for storing a medicament and alerting a patient when to take the medicament. The apparatus contains a processor, which is programmed to indicate when the patient is scheduled to take a medicament, and which medicament is to be taken. At the scheduled time, the patient is alerted and at least one characteristic (i.e. size, shape, color, etc.) of the medicament scheduled to be taken is described to the patient. The patient is also able to view previously scheduled medicaments as well as a schedule of medicaments to be taken in the future.
1. An apparatus comprising:
an enclosed compartment suitable for containing a plurality of medicaments and of a size suitable for being carried by an individual; and
wherein a first data output from the processor informs when to take a medicament, and
wherein a second data output from the processor describes at least one characteristic of the medicament.
2. The apparatus of
a display coupled to the processor for viewing data output from the processor.
3. The apparatus of
4. The apparatus of
a memory coupled to the processor of a size suitable to store instructions to allow the processor to inform when to take at least one medicament and to describe at least one characteristic of the medicament.
5. The apparatus of
a switch coupled to the processor and accessible by an individual,
wherein activating the switch signals the processor to output information regarding at least one additional characteristic of the medicament on the display.
6. The apparatus of
a switch coupled to the processor and accessible by an individual,
wherein actuating the switch a first time signals the processor to output information regarding a medicament to be taken at a first interval and actuating the switch a second time signals the processor to output information regarding a medicament to be taken at a second, subsequent interval.
7. The apparatus of
8. The apparatus of
9. The apparatus of
10. The apparatus of
wherein the indicator is at least one of a visual warning on the display, an audio alert, a visual alert, and a vibration alert.
11. The apparatus of
12. The apparatus of
13. The apparatus of
14. A method, comprising:
programming a description of at least one characteristic of a medicament and a schedule of when to take the medicament into a memory executable by a processor coupled to a case to be carried by a person, the case including a container suitable for containing a plurality of medicaments.
15. The method of
16. The method of
replacing the first schedule of when to take the first medicament with a second schedule of when to take the first medicament; and
re-programming the memory to include the second schedule.
17. The method of
replacing the first medicament with a second medicament; and
re-programming the memory to include a description of at least one characteristic of the second medicament.
18. The method of
programming a description of at least one characteristic of a second medicament and a second schedule of when to take the second medicament into the memory.
19. A machine readable medium containing program instructions that when executed cause a processor to perform a method comprising:
alerting a person of a time to take at least one medicament; and
informing of at least one characteristic of the at least one medicament.
20. The machine readable medium of
2. Background Art
Prior art devices and methods have been developed which inform patients that it is time to take a medicament. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,507,275 recites a pill dispensing case including a reminder for assisting a patient to remember to take one or more pills at a preferred time.
An embodiment includes a microprocessor held in a case. The microprocessor includes a 24 hour clock and outputs information to both a warning indicator and a data display window at programmed times. The microprocessor is connected to a data link interface which is capable of receiving programming information. The case may include one or more pill compartments depending on whether there is more than one type of medicament. A warning signal transmission unit may also be provided separately from the case and may transmit a warning signal generated from the case to a mobile or stationary receiver via wireless or wired output.
Features, aspects, and advantages of the various embodiments will become more thoroughly apparent from the following detailed description, appended claims, and accompanying drawings in which:
It is common for patients to take multiple medicaments for multiple ailments during the same period of time. Also, it is common for patients to forget to take a medicament at times instructed by a healthcare professional. In situations involving different medicaments, when patients do remember, patients often forget how each medicament looks individually. This is particularly true with prescription medicaments since most prescription medicaments rely on the package label to identify the medicament.
These problems are amplified when a patient is scheduled to take a medicament at a time when the patient is away from home and the patient's attention is directed toward something other than taking a medicament. Patients typically do not take an entire package (e.g., a pill bottle), which identifies the medicament, with them when going somewhere. Rather, patients tend to just carry (e.g., in a container) the minimum amount of medicament(s) necessary to be taken during their absence from home. Additionally, while away from home many patients become distracted and forget to take their medicament(s) at the scheduled time.
By “therapeutic compound” it is meant any substance used to treat (including prevent, diagnose, alleviate, or cure) a malady, affliction, nutritional deficiency, disease or injury in a patient. The term “therapeutic compound” is also meant to include substances that are a supplement for improving the nutritional, physical, or emotional well-being of a patient such as vitamins, minerals, or herbal based supplements. By “patient” it is meant a human and/or animal such as a mammal or reptile under the care of an administrator such as a physician or veterinarian.
Case 105 can be made of plastic, metal or any other durable, light-weight material suitable for use in holding medicaments and transportable by a patient. In one embodiment, case 105 is in the shape of a rectangular (including a square) box. In terms of plastic material, case 105 may be formed through molding techniques. Although shown as a rectangular box, it is contemplated that case 105 may have any shape suitable for use in holding medicaments and equipment suitable for alerting a patient it is time to take a medicament. For example, in another embodiment, case 105 may include a nylon or cloth body defining compartment 110 (e.g., of a size similar to a purse or “fanny pack” on a belt or to be worn around a patient's waist).
As shown in
Case 105 includes, in this embodiment, compartment 110 accessible through partially or completely detachable door 112 on the front portion of case 105 (e.g., a partially detachable door may have one or more hinges that are connected to each of door 112 and case 105).
In the embodiment shown in
Referring again to
Processor 125 in the embodiment shown in
Power source 145 is connected to and drives processor 125. Power source 145, in one embodiment, is a high energy density cell or plurality of cells. For example, power source 145 may be a battery (e.g. AA or AAA battery), a button cell battery, a coin cell battery, a rechargeable battery or any other power source suitable for use in a portable computing device.
Referring to the embodiment illustrated in
In the embodiment illustrated in
Referring to the embodiment illustrated in
In the embodiment illustrated in
Computing device 200 may receive, store and transfer medicament schedule and description data. With regard to description data, medicaments are not generally manufactured with the name of the medicament printed on it. Instead, this information is typically printed on the label of the packaging (e.g. pill bottle) with which the medicament is distributed to a person (e.g., a patient). Therefore, it is difficult to know exactly what a particular medicament is by inspection of the medicament itself. However, medicaments include a variety of characteristics that make them readily identifiable provided a patient has the knowledge to distinguish particular medicaments based on these characteristics.
Medicament characteristics include, but are not limited to, size; shape; color; colors; flavor; scent; texture; visual marks, for example, letters, numbers, cross-top, lines, indentations, palpable marks, corrugations, etc.; type of medicament, for example, a description whether the medicament is a tablet, capsule, gel capsule, pill, liquid, powder, spray, lotion, cream, ointment, etc; or other description capable of being detected by at least one of the five senses. Knowing one or more of these characteristics allows a patient to distinguish medicaments from one another.
In one embodiment, after the medicament and schedule data is input into computing device 200, the health care professional transfers the data to memory 130 of medicament container 100 via interface 135. Interface 135 includes an external receiving end sufficient to receive data from magnetic or optical disks, cards, wires, wireless signals, etc. external to case 105. This information may also be saved on a hard drive of computing device 200 or to an external storage device, such as a floppy disk or compact disc that may be placed into a patient's file and/or given to a person responsible for medicament container 100 for their records or reference.
Referring to the embodiment of medicament container 100 illustrated in
The machine-readable instructions in processor 125 include instructions to convey schedule data and medicament description data (e.g., dose and description of one or more characteristics of the medicament(s) a person is scheduled to take or administer at a particular time). An internal clock, in one embodiment, is included as part of processor 125 to be checked against to indicate, for example, when a medicament is scheduled to be taken. In one embodiment, processor 125 executes the instructions conveying the name, dose, and description of one or more characteristics of the medicament(s) against the clock and the executed results are shown on display 150. Processor 125 may also signal audible output device 160 to sound an audible alert and/or generate verbal instructions.
The following paragraphs describe methods of using medicament container 100. It is appreciated that the methods are presented as examples of such use rather than limits on the possible uses of medicament container 100.
In one embodiment, medicament information is transmitted from computing device 200 to medicament container 100 via interface 135 and is stored in memory 130. A person (e.g., a patient) or healthcare professional loads (stores) one or more medicaments in compartment 110. Utilizing an internal clock, at an appropriate time to take or administer a medicament (administration alert time), processor 125 triggers indicator 140 to alert the person having control of medicament container 100. Processor 125 may alternatively or additionally signal speaker 160 to audibly alert the person.
At this administration alert time, processor 125 also executes instructions from memory 130 regarding a particular medicament stored in compartment 110. Such instructions are displayed on display 150 and include, for example, the time a medicament is to be taken, the medicament name, dosage, one or more particular characteristics about the medicament, and any cautionary or other information regarding the medicament. In another embodiment, processor 125 may alternatively or additionally signal speaker 160 to audibly instruct the person as to some or all of the above information.
In one embodiment, at the administration alert time, the above information is automatically shown on display 150 or communicated through audible output device 160 without a prompt from the person using medicament container 100. In another embodiment, after an alert by indicator 140 and/or audible output device 160, moving or actuating switch 155 is necessary to access the above instructions from display 150 and/or audible output device 160. Additional moving or actuation of switch 155 may be necessary to obtain additional medicament information, such as “take pill with two glasses of water” or “pill may cause drowsiness, do not drive”.
Following the administration alert, a person (e.g., a patient) opens door 112 of case 105 and accesses one or more medicaments within compartment 110 based on the information shown on display 150 or communicated through audible output device 160. In the embodiment where compartment 110 is one undivided or indivisible compartment, the information (e.g., one or more medicament characteristics) allows a person to differentiate between different types of medicaments that may be in compartment 110.
In between administration alert times, a person may be able to access the next or previously taken medicament information by, for example, moving or actuating switch 155. In another embodiment, a plurality of switches 155 may be utilized to access medicament and/or schedule information.
In another embodiment, processor 125 may be accessed by voice commands through audio receiver 165 to perform all functions previously described for switch 155. Audio receiver 165 may be used additionally or alternatively to switch 155.
In one embodiment, the times, medicament names, doses, characteristics and other information are programmed or downloaded from the independent computing device via a cable link or wireless link into a memory executable by a processor contained within the medicament container (block 630).
When a person is scheduled to take or administer a medicament, the person is alerted (block 640). In one embodiment, when the alert is given, the time, medicament name, dose, at least one characteristic of the scheduled medicament(s) and other information is described to the patient (block 650). The person is subsequently alerted, in one embodiment, of additional medicaments to take or administer at future scheduled times with the appropriate medicament descriptions (660).
The above method may continue for some time such as for a length of a prescription period of one or more medicaments. After such time, a health care professional may evaluate, for example, a particular treatment regimen and update the regimen. For example, a health care professional may prescribe a new medicament, a new medicament dosage, and/or a new schedule (block 670). At that point, the health care professional would input the new information into an independent computing device and ultimately to the medicament container (680).
In the preceding paragraphs, specific embodiments are described. It will, however, be evident that various modifications and changes may be made thereto without departing from the broader spirit and scope of the claims. The specification and drawings are, accordingly, to be regarded in an illustrative rather than a restrictive sense.